Saturday, July 19, 2003

Students turn beliefs into service

Faith matters

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Cristina Airaghi, 24, of Hyde Park, learned early in life about the connection between faith and service.

Now as a graduate student in theology at the University of California-Berkeley, she's putting those ideals into action as part of Seminary Summer, a program of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice to improve the lives of workers.

"It's not just about hearing; it's about doing. It's about acting on your beliefs," the 1997 St. Ursula Academy graduate said. "Faith doing justice. I grew up hearing that, and I believe that's what it's all about."

Airaghi is working with UNITE, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, to educate workers at Cintas Corp.

Cecilia Reeder, 21, of Norwood, is working in Morganton, N.C., with immigrant workers.

The committee has a workers' resource center there to address concerns of low-wage workers, such as helping them lodge formal complaints and process worker's compensation claims.

Reeder, a social work major at the University of Dayton, is taking part in the Catholic Social Teaching Internship.

"It's helped me a lot to understand the basic rights of humanity, whether you're a citizen or an immigrant," she said. "It's opened up another aspect (of social work) I wasn't exposed to before.

"The religious community is a great place to find support for these workers. The Catholic faith has always supported these basic human rights."

Hunger awareness

Ten bicyclists will arrive in Cincinnati on Thursday to raise awareness of hunger. The Brake the Cycle of Poverty tour, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, started June 1 in San Francisco.

CCHD is the Catholic bishops' initiative to bring about systemic change to reduce poverty. In 2002, the Cincinnati effort of the organization awarded $257,000 in grants to 21 religious and nonreligious agencies in the archdiocese, such as the AMOS Project, a group aimed at finding solutions to societal problems.

"These agencies are trying to make sure that the rules and the way we do things as a society doesn't hurt, but helps, the poor," said Connie Widmer, associate director of Catholic social action for the archdiocese.

There are about 33 million Americans living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The riders will arrive at the Newport Peace Bell at 10 a.m. and then ride to Sawyer Point for a snack. At 11:45 a.m. on Fountain Square, there will be a presentation with Mayor Charlie Luken.

Service for saint

There will be a service in honor of the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala at Bellarmine Chapel on the Xavier University campus, 3801 Ledgwood Drive, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

More than 200 groups worldwide will celebrate the woman whom Biblical research now suggests was an early leader in the church and a close companion of Jesus.

To submit religion news, e-mail or send a fax to 755-4150.

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